Very Light Jets the future of aviation - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Very Light Jets the future of aviation


OSHKOSH (WKOW) -- The image of a private jet, in most people's minds, is one of excess.

Of pampered and pompous CEOs traveling in style while their companies go down in flames.

But, that image is about to be turned on its head by a company that got it's start in Baraboo.

"The jet behind me is a personal jet." says Dale Klapmeier, co-founder of Cirrus, "It's designed with the owner in the front right seat."

The Cirrus Vision is considered a very light jet, or VLJ, and it's expected to be remarkably cheap: just over a million dollars.

That's not much more than some used twin engine prop planes.

"What we were after with the Vision is a step-up airplane for our current customers." says Klapmeier, "Our customers want to fly higher, farther, faster, they want to carry more so we're building them the airplane to fit that need. It just happens to have a jet engine on it."

But, a sizeable market could be found in the potential of air taxi services.

Jeff Baum is with Wisconsin Aviation.

He sees the day when small jets could bring many more people to small terminals to catch their flights and avoid the hassles of flying the major airlines.

"You'll hop on one of these and an hour later, you're there," says Baum. "And you walk into the building like this five to 10 minutes before your flight leaves, hop on an airplane and you're gone."

The cost will always be higher than flying coach, but the convenience could be worth it to many.

Of course, some people are squeamish about flying in small planes, so technology to the rescue.

The new Cirrus jet has a computerized instrument panel similar to the one Baum uses at Wisconsin Aviation.

Cirrus has a reputation for innovation when it comes safety. All of its aircraft are outfitted with a rocket propelled parachute that can bring a plane safely to the ground if it has an inflight emergency. Its also developed a simple but effective anti-icing system. Items that are sure to be a comfort to those looking to buy into the jet age.

There are four or five other makers of very light jets and if the economy turns around, they could revolutionize the private and corporate aviation industry.

And the general public might have a very different reaction the next time a CEO steps off a corporate jet, if it looks like a VLJ.

Powered by Frankly